“I worry about why they are so hungry for these jobs,” she said.
In interviews with juvenile migrant workers, The Times found child labor in the supply chains of many major American brands and retailers. Some, including Ford, General Motors, J. Crew and Walmart, as well as their suppliers, said they take the allegations seriously and will investigate. Target and Whole Foods did not respond to requests for comment. Fruit of the Loom said it had terminated its contract with the supplier.
One company, Ben & Jerry’s, said it worked with labor groups to ensure minimal working conditions at its dairy suppliers. Cheryl Pinto, the company’s head of value-based sourcing, says that if immigrant children need to work full-time, they’re better off getting a job in a supervised workplace. good close.
The Labor Department is tasked with finding and punishing child labor violations, but inspectors in dozens of states say their understaffed offices are barely able to respond to complaints, much less. make the initial investigations public. When the department responded to advice on migrant children, it focused on outside contractors and staffing agencies that typically employ them, not the corporations where they do the work.
In Worthington, Minn., it’s long been known that migrant children released by HHS are cleaning a slaughterhouse run by JBS, the world’s largest meat processor. The town has received more unaccompanied migrant children per capita than almost anywhere in the country.
Outside the JBS pork plant last fall, The Times spoke to child-faced workers who chased and teased each other as they finished their morning shift. Many people have crossed out their fake names from their company badges to conceal evidence that they are working under false identities. Some said they had suffered chemical burns from the corrosive cleaners they used.
Not long after, labor inspectors who responded to a tip found 22 Spanish-speaking children working for the company hired to clean. JBS factory in Worthingtonand dozens of others doing similar work at meat processing plants across the United States.
But the Department of Labor can generally only issue fines. The cleaning company paid a $1.5 million fine, while JBS said it was unaware children were scrubbing the Worthington factory every night. JBS fires the cleaning contractor.